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When 1998 Brought Us Back From 1994…

The years after Major League Baseball’s strike in 1994 were bleak. It was embarrassing, and fans let them know how they felt about it by not showing up or tuning in. The NFL was picking up steam as Dallas was running off Super Bowl victories. The NBA was on fire, largely in part to the popularity of a man named Michael Jordan, you may have heard of him. All the while the MLB was on life support. Then came the chase of 1998!

When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled for the Home Run Record, everybody tuned in. It was incredible. We forgot about the cancelled World series of ’94, we ignored the signs of performance enhancements, and we pushed all-in on America’s Pasttime. The ratings soared along with the home run totals, and we wondered if one of these sluggers could break Roger Maris’ coveted record of 61. We celebrated as they both would end up topping the legendary Yankee (Sosa with 66, McGwire with 70), and we relished in their accomplishment. This was all before it came crashing down in the 2000’s…

Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals (R) and Sa

Just because we now know that there was rampant steroid use in the League doesn’t mean we can’t, or shouldn’t look back at those times for what they were to us in the moment… Pure, unadulterated excitement. It reminded us of what the game of baseball can be. In 1994 they showed us that professional sports is a business first. It’s not the game we played in the backyard as children, but when the players are playing, it’s what we hope it is. No boardrooms, no doctors, no training facilities, just baseball!

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